The "Only Option Is to Shut Down" in States Not Doing This, Doctor Warns
If your state isn't doing these things, going back into lockdown is "the only option."
Coronavirus cases are surging across the U.S. And while some states are taking measures to slow the spread by mandating masks, creating strike teams, issuing fines to people who don't social distance, and even arresting those with COVID who won't self-isolate, the numbers continue to climb. On CNN's New Day on July 9, Ali Khan, MD, the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was asked about the high positive testing rate in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida. "If you were in charge, do you think those states should shut down today?" co-host Alisyn Camerota asked Khan. In short, Khan, the CDC's former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said, "If we're not dropping cases in our community with test and trace and masking, then, yes."
Khan said there are multiple measures that can help "get this outbreak under control, starting with test and trace," which he noted has been successful in Europe, Canada, and many other countries that have eliminated the virus. "If you can't get those right, your only option is to shut down," Khan said.
He added that these are the things that "we know work" when it comes to containing COVID-19: "leadership; test and trace, get cases down in our community; wear masks, wash your hands, the community engagement part."
Some states, Khan noted, are already rolling back on their reopening plans. "They're shutting down bars. They're shutting down restaurants, because if people don't come in contact with each other … they can't cause disease," he said.
In early July, Texas governor Greg Abbott, for example, ordered bars to stop serving alcohol on site and also for dine-in restaurants to decrease capacity. Most other businesses, meanwhile, remain open. Abbott also issued a mask mandate earlier this month. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey also shut down bars and ordered gyms, theaters, and water parks to close as well. Arizona, however, does not have a statewide mask requirement. In both Arizona and Texas, churches, retail stores, salons, and other businesses remain opened.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), sent a similar message to Khan's on July 8 regarding future lockdowns. "I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down," he said on The Wall Street Journal's podcast on Wednesday. However, Fauci refused to name certain states in particular. "It's not for me to say because each state is different," he explained.
Three weeks ago, despite rapidly rising numbers, Fauci said, "I don't think we're going to be talking about going back to lockdown." But the numbers have worsened since then. For example, as of July 9, there are almost 108,710 coronavirus cases in Arizona, 229,115 cases in Texas, and 223,775 cases in Florida, according to The New York Times data.
And it seems citizens of these hard-hit states are in favor of such a drastic measure. In a recent Harris Poll conducted over the first weekend of July, 76 percent of citizens in both Arizona and Texas said they want their states to return to lockdown. And for more on how coronavirus is being transmitted, 80 Percent of People Who Test Positive for COVID Have This in Common.